The Combined Power of DNA & Family Trees

My wife Marlene’s great great great grandfather, Thomas Spriggs (1790-1867) was born in the parish of Toot Baldon, Oxfordshire, England, a son of James Spriggs and Elizabeth Woodbridge.  Thomas had a sister, Ann Spriggs who was baptised in Toot Baldon in 1786, but to date I have found neither a marriage nor a burial record for Ann in Toot Baldon or surrounding parishes.  Until now…

From time to time I review Marlene’s Ancestry DNA match list, using the “Common ancestors” filter.  The result list includes only matches which Ancestry identifies as sharing a common ancestor with Marlene, primarily by comparison of family trees.  Ancestry recently identified Marie as a DNA match, and suggested that she is descended from Ann Spriggs, a daughter of James Spriggs and Elizabeth Woodward.  Marlene and Marie only share 8 cM of DNA, but this is not surprising, as they would be fifth cousins once removed.  8 cM is the minimum amount of shared DNA that Ancestry uses to identify matches, so this might not be a real match.

Thankfully, I have “view access” to the AncestryDNA accounts of two of Marlene’s Spriggs cousins – Jane and Gillian.  This allows me to see their DNA matches, which revealed that both Jane and Gillian also share DNA with Marie, 9 and 8 cM respectively.

I made contact with Marie, and she graciously provided me with view access to her AncestryDNA account.  I searched each of the four testers DNA match list to show only those with the surname Spriggs in their family tree, which revealed that both Marie and Gillian share DNA with a tester named Jan.  I compared Marie and Jan’s family trees and identified that they are third cousins once removed, both being descended from Isaac Rose, a son of Ann Spriggs.  The chart below shows the relationships and the amount of shared DNA between the five testers.

This is not conclusive evidence that the Ann Spriggs in Marie and Jan’s ancestry is the same Ann Spriggs who was baptised in Toot Baldon in 1786, but it strongly suggests that this is the case.  Is it realistic that Ann would have travelled the 15 miles from Toot Baldon to Haddenham, Buckinghamshire to marry Charles Rose in the early 1800s? We know that Thomas moved 10 miles from home, to live at Tetsworth, Oxfordshire, and later to Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire, which is only 7 miles from Haddenham, so it does not seem too far-fetched to be possible.

Hopefully my local LDS Library, currently closed due to Covid-19, will re-open soon and I can view the marriage entry for Ann Spriggs and Charles Rose in the Haddenham, Buckinghamshire parish records.  If I am super lucky it will say “…Charles Rose of this parish and Ann Spriggs of the parish of Toot Baldon”, which would make the connection much more likely.

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